2017 RAM 2500 Power Wagon: This is Nostalgia at its Worst

on Jun11

11 June 2017 | 10:55 pm

There’s a huge movement these days to bring back old movies, TV shows and clothing styles. What’s old is new again is a pervasive theme in our day and age, and that even extends to the auto industry. With throwback muscle cars from every brand, and even retro-themed cars like the Mini, it’s clear that people love that vintage flair. What we have with this Dodge Ram Power Wagon is a throwback to the worst time in the history of trucks, when they were simple, uncomfortable, basic inside and impractical.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of promise here. On paper, a big, lifted truck with a 6.4-Liter Hemi V8 cranking out 410hp sounds fantastic. And we even were initially impressed. We hadn’t had much time with it when our review video was filmed, so you might see some praise. But the shine quickly wore off, and it was replaced with disappointment in the fit/finish, features that didn’t work, laggy-feeling engine/transmission combo and high price of entry.

Let’s frame this – for a few thousand more you can get an incredible Ford Raptor with an advanced engine, 10-speed transmission, off-road race suspension with Fox shocks, and one of the best interiors ever to grace a truck. But this Dodge leaves you with the cheap-plastic feeling of the 90’s in the inside. The off-road technology that is provided – locking differentials and electrically-disconnectable swaybars – never worked the entire period we had the vehicle. I repeat – they never worked! You’d press the button, and then watch the light flash forever.

The engine, despite the power numbers, doesn’t really feel that quick. And compared with the instant boost of the Ford engine, it feels lame off the line. However, there is no substitute for the sound that this big V8 makes. You can’t help but smile when you put your foot down, even as you’re being underwhelmed by the acceleration. It doesn’t really matter, because the soundtrack is so good. The 6-speed automatic transmission feels like it’s never quite in the right gear for the engine, and despite 429 ft-lb of torque, there never feels like a ton of grunt is present. Combine that with the poor mileage we experienced, and it’s hard to be excited about the powertrain.

That being said, the towing capacity is an impressive 10,300lb. Again, with the off-road intentions of the Power wagon, there’s just too much promise and not enough delivery. The suspension manages to be both too soft and too stiff, with a harshness over bumps combined with a ton of body roll. I really would love to have tried the articulation provided by the unlockable swaybars – which are designed to give you good on-road handling while letting the wheels move independently over large obstacles. I would suspect that if you could ever get them to work, they would make the Power Wagon more capable over rock trails and slow crawling. The Raptor is better suited to desert runs at maximum speed.

The interior is equipped with a decent amount of storage and technology, but it all seems slapped on after the fact. The Dodge infotainment system is good enough, but it’s hard to get past the mistakes of design and execution that surround it. There are some handy storage compartments that are optional on the bed which take dead space and make them into storage. That was a feature we appreciated, but it did cut into bed space a little bit.

Overall, it’s just really hard to recommend the Power Wagon knowing the Raptor is within the same price zone. There’s just too much of a dated feel that misses on the nostalgia and just reminds you of when cars weren’t as good. Unless you’re a die-hard Dodge fan, or you plan to do some heavy-duty rock crawling, this is probably one to skip.


By Jason Saini

Special thanks to FCA Group for providing the 2017 RAM 2500 Power Wagon for review.

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